It was August, it was England, it was calm, it was mostly warm and muggy. We sailed on CV9, Singapore, with Skipper Gareth Glover, on his first week back on training after the 11-12 Race, and mate Matt Mitchell, hopeful skipper-to-be for the 13-14 edition.
We learned a lot – how heavy everything is on a 68 footer, the joys of reefing and headsail changes at dead of night, how chorizo can make any pasta dish better. We even tried the emergency steering in the middle of the channel somewhere – all I can say is we’d need a large continent for a target if we had to sail far using that. We sailed mostly on the Solent, but our overnight trip took us to Bray Harbour in Alderney. We had a splendid run back to England with the llightweight kite up – Matt the mate was having fun helming – he said it was too hard for us to try as the wind climbed into the 20knot range, but I think really he was just enjoying himself too much to share.
There were a few hardships – the inevitable snoring, motor-sailing for hours just to stem the tide off Portland Bill, running out of instant coffee, running out of milk, running out of food because the shop in Bray did not open before the tide forced us to leave, running out of water on the last day (why?). We tried a man overboard drill with the spinnaker up – not our greatest moment, as we quickly lost sight of the dan buoy, and despite sailing search patterns for what seemed like hours, never saw it again. But we learned, and we laughed, a lot! (OK, maybe we wept a bit too, but that’s how bonding happens).
Nearly half our crew of nine had never sailed before – it was amazing to watch how everyone developed, from learning the absolute basics of how to be safe with the winches or steer a course at the beginning, to confidently taking charge of evolutions (the Clipper term for sail changes, reefing, etc) by the end of the week. Great training, great people – the start of a great adventure!